As Quebec settles into its sixth COVID-19 wave, one nurse at the Lakeshore General Hospital in Montreal’s West Island says he doesn’t understand why health care workers aren’t on the list to receive a fourth dose of vaccine.
“When I work in the triage in the emergency room, I see about one patient an hour that has COVID-19, or who has a fever and a cough,” Nathan Friedland tells CTV News. “I’m exposed to COVID-19 patients every day, especially in a wave. Yet, I cannot get this fourth dose and my wife can and she’s not even a health care worker. How does this make any sense?”
The 51-year-old points out oftentimes, the people he sees in the ER often forget vital pieces of information like, ‘I travelled recently’ or, ‘I had a fever,’ or, ‘I had a cough’ and this can put nurses at risk.
“I have to assume that every patient that comes in and I see has it [COVID-19] until proven otherwise, so it’s very frustrating,” he said. “To have to push to get a vaccine when you’re a health care worker again and again and again is very frustrating.”
He says, ironically, his wife is scheduled to receive her second booster this Thursday simply because she’s over the age of 60.
“The government didn’t learn anything [over the last two years],” he argues. “They think they did such a fantastic job with their vaccine rollout. I don’t see it. I really don’t see it at all.”
Quebec’s Health Ministry points to recommendations made by the Quebec immunization committee (CIQ) when it states health care workers do not fall under any category that requires a second booster.
“The primary goal of vaccination against COVID-19 is to protect the most vulnerable people and prevent serious illness and death,” the Quebec Health Ministry explains. “Protection after a first booster dose of COVID-19 vaccine is high and long-lasting. However, a second booster is immunogenic, increases protection and appears safe for vulnerable individuals.”
The fourth dose of vaccine is currently recommended for:
People living in CHSLDs and RPAs;
People living with elderly or vulnerable people;
People aged 80 and over;
Immunocompromised or people on dialysis that are 12 years or older;
Highly vulnerable people living in remote and isolated communities.
It is also currently being offered to people aged 60 and up.
“The CIQ considers that there is little benefit at present in offering a second booster dose to people not covered by this recommendation,” notes the Health Ministry. “Despite this, these individuals could receive it, with informed consent, if they wish to, at least three months after their first booster dose.”
There are currently just over 12,000 health care workers off work due to various situations related to COVID-19.